GOLD STAR: J.T. Miller ended up making the most impact on the game as he knocked David Backes out of Game 5 with a hit that looked like it was head-to-head contact, and then scored the game-winner on a power play just a couple of minutes later. It was a nice give-and-go cycling play with Nikita Kucherov that ended with Miller launching a quick wrist shot from the face-off circle that caught the Bruins goalie by surprise high over his glove hand. Miller finished with the goal and a plus-1 rating in 15:16 of ice time, five shot attempts, two hits, and won 4-of-7 face-offs in a strong all-around effort in an elimination game. It’s interesting to note that Miller was the much less discussed member of that Ryan McDonagh deal with the New York Rangers, but it was the former New York forward that had the big impact in an important game for the Bolts.
BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand wasn’t very good in one of the biggest games of the year after his actions licking the face of Ryan Callahan became a bit of a sideshow during the series. Marchand finished without a single shot on net, had a couple of giveaways and didn’t really provide any offensive pressure in a game where the Bruins only managed one goal. One would have thought that No. 63 would have been better with everything swirling around him, but instead it looked like he dialed back his game a bit and played more tentatively than usual. It’s too bad because the Bruins really were a boom-or-bust team with that top line during the playoffs, and were very much hurt by the fact the Bruin didn’t have a single 5-on-5 goal from any of their forwards in the final four games of the playoff series against Tampa Bay.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a solid first period where they exited with a one-goal lead and scored first for only the second time in the series, and then things really fell apart in the second period during a less than four-minute span. Brayden Point dangled picked up a loose puck and managed to dangle through Tuukka Rask for the game-tying goal at the midway mark of the second period, and then JT Miller knocked David Backes out of the game with a head-to-head hit that left Boston’s power forward down and dazed on the ice. Then Miller scored the game-winner on a power play after Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping, and in that span of just a couple of minutes the Bruins really lost all control of the game. They were within striking distance after that, but it just wasn’t going to happen against a stingy Lightning team.
HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy turned in a very strong final game of his rookie season by leading the Bruins with 26:49 of ice time, and assisting on the only goal they scored with a sweet room service pass to David Krejci for his one-time goal. McAvoy very clearly got better as the series went along and as he was further removed from his knee injury, and finished with two shots on net, four shot attempts, three hits and four blocked shots in a strong all-around game. McAvoy also had a nice open ice hit on Brayden Point as well in the first period that the referees turned into a cross-checking penalty after the two players got tangled up after the hit. Clearly, there weren’t many great standouts for the Bruins in a 3-1 loss, but the performance of McAvoy was definitely a positive.
BY THE NUMBERS: 19-12 – the power play discrepancy for the series with Tampa Bay finishing with seven more PP chances than Boston over the course of a five-game series. An extra PP in Games 2 and 4 would have probably made this look a lot closer to even, eh NHL?
QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to for next season.” –Zdeno Chara, who felt pride and optimism along with the normal disappointment as the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs.